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Shooting Industry March 2009 - Page 28
Dealers’Troubles Industry’s Are The Open Letter To The Industry T Troubles his is not a normal industry and it requires people of vi- than most know. From beginning to end, we spend several hours on sion and understanding to guide us into the future. With each and every gun sold. This involves eight different people. The this said, I would like to tell you of my concerns. minimal profit we make will hardly cover the time we put into it. We operate H&H Gun Range in Oklahoma City, Okla. In Some dealers may do less, but with ATF standing ready and 1996, when my wife Jayne and I made the decision to go into willing to pounce on us for even the littlest mistake, we have to retail sales in Oklahoma, we did a considerable amount of review put in the time to make it right. On our last inspection, we had and study. What we found was very disturbing. six inspectors here for 11 days going over every entry and gun Dealers who were selling guns were not marketing or making in the building. When they left, we did not have a single write any real efforts to get new shooters into the sport. In effect, they up. We and other dealers are very vulnerable to rogue inspectors were living off an ever-shrinking market base. We also found the whose only desire is to make a name for themselves, and hanging retail margins on most guns were only around 10 to 12 percent, a high-profile business would be at the top of their list. I could go which may be one reason dealers were not marketing. We also on for several pages on this issue alone, but I am sure you get the found that the style of the shops was, for lack of a better term, picture. The shooting sports is not a typical business and it cannot old school. afford to be treated as such. Next, we found the tiered level During the years I have been of distribution was not working. involved with NSSF and this busi“Distributors/Retailers” were opness, hundreds, if not over a thouerating out of the same location. sand, business folks have flown to These distributors, who were sellOklahoma to learn how they can duing direct to the public, were only plicate our design. I help freely all contributing to their own pockets who come because that is how we — not helping the market grow. help build an industry. These venWe found the local industry was ture capitalists have two basic queson the verge of collapsing, a death tions: “How much can I make?” and spiral of its own making. The number of hunt“What are the risks?” Try as I may to promote ers was less and declining, the number of guns the heritage and tradition, the reality is margins being sold was also declining, and worst of all, are very low and if the federal paperwork is not the impression of guns was not positive in the correct, you could go to jail. That’s not a lot of fashion we knew it should be. positives for this very important group. We weighed all this as we entered the retail I tell you these things not to preach, but trade. For reasons that only a few tend to undermaybe to shed some light on the dealer’s plight. stand, we made the choice of trying to correct In order for this industry to grow, it must have the problem and put the shooting sports back on Miles and Jayne Hall operate the award- a deeper understanding of the dealer. The dealan upward turn, or at least level it out. Our mar- winning H&H Gun Range and Shooting er’s troubles are the industry’s troubles. The keting, design and service have had an impact. Sports Outlet in Oklahoma City. dealer’s lack of profitability will kill this indusWhen I first contacted the National Shoottry faster than any anti-gun group could. Too ing Sports Foundation (NSSF) in the early ’90s about developing many people are just waiting for that special moment to happen. the National Association of Shooting Ranges and the National Dealers need support, to be sure, but more than that, I feel Association of Firearms Retailers, I found an ally that was eager they want some understanding of the bigger picture and how the to help. That support has helped in this quest to save an industry. manufacturers play such an important role in their lives. Dealers Our range was a critical part of the picture, to be sure, but for are the best outlet for success, not only for the sales of products, the record, it barely covers its expenses. However, it is priceless but also for the future of the sport. Manufacturers, help dealers when you take into account the opportunity it has given to thou- with advertising money to brand your products to their store in sands to shoot for the very first time. Our goal in all we do is to their market. Enforce MSRP so dealers can make a profit. Listen increase the number of shooters. We never want to harm another to them, and together we will make this industry grow like nothdealer in this market, because when one leaves, no one is replacing ing it has ever seen in its history. that dealer. Together, we are the industry. I am telling you this in hopes Today, dealers seem to be facing a very gloomy future. Manufac- that something positive might come of it. turers are making better margin on products than dealers: double to Miles E. Hall, Founder & President triple in many cases. The paperwork also has become more complex H&H Gun Range, Shooting Sports Outlet 9 “Dealers are the best outlet for success, not only for the sales of products, but also for the future of the sport.” 28 MARCH 2009 Read SI DIGITAL www.shootingindustry.com